Parking hours reviewed

CITY HALL — Downtown parking restrictions that were extended to 10 p.m. last year could soon be rolled back two hours under a proposal sent to the Traffic and Parking Commission on Tuesday.

The City Council, reacting to grumbles on the street over the late-night parking limits on Brand Boulevard and other downtown streets, directed city officials Tuesday to vet a proposal to shorten enforcement to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The proposal leaves the 10 p.m. period intact for Friday and Saturday.

The council moved forward with the plan, citing concerns that the duration of metered parking hours downtown was discouraging potential patrons already stressed by a worsening recession.

“I just think that doesn’t work,” Councilman Frank Quintero said.

Downtown Glendale Merchants Assn. representatives, who lobbied hard for the Brand Boulevard parking meters to discourage employees and others from leaving their cars on the street all day, warned that rolling back the restrictions, even by two hours, would negate the entire effort.

“As we see it, it defeats what we thought we were doing,” association President Eric Olson said.

In the months since the multispace meters were activated, the availability of coveted storefront parking spaces along Brand Boulevard has jumped roughly 20% between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to a city report.

At the same time, the number of visitors using the city’s three garages has increased from 300 to 500 per day, traffic officials reported.

Downtown merchants pointed to the findings as proof that the new system was having its desired effect — pushing long-term parkers into garages while freeing up street spots for greater customer turnover.

Rolling the enforcement period back to 8 p.m. could tempt workers into taking up street-side parking spots around 6 p.m. with the knowledge that they’d be in the clear two hours later, Olson warned.

At least two on the City Council, Dave Weaver and Ara Najarian, expressed concern over going against the recommendation of the merchants association, which they said was better positioned to know what was and wasn’t working downtown.

The Traffic and Parking Commission first must review the proposed changes after Public Works officials engage Brand Boulevard business owners for input. Any recommendation from the commission would then come back to the City Council for final consideration.

“I’m not insensitive to the folks who are concerned about the hours being too long, but I think we need to adjust this in small ways,” Najarian said.

Fewer adjustments mean fewer chances to confuse the public, he added.

Still, with three on the council clearly in favor of rolling back the enforcement period to 8 p.m. for at least five days a week, the change appeared to have enough political support to pass as it headed into the review process.

“I’m just not sure what we’re accomplishing with the hours to 10 p.m.,” Mayor John Drayman said.

The council also directed the Traffic and Parking Commission to weigh in on a proposal to create a four-hour time zone for the city lot on Orange Street directly behind Porto’s Bakery on a trial basis.

The increased time allowance would make life easier for patrons seeking a more leisurely visit, merchants said.

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